Researchers in the UK are taking on new roles and responsibilities to meet the requirements of an expanded agenda for generating and evidencing social and economic impacts from research. Within this wider context, culture change programmes have identified learning as an important driver of change. Here we outline a professional development programme designed to train postgraduate researchers studying environmental sciences in core engagement, influence and impact, governance and organization skills for research. We argue that training is an important step in further catalysing progressive culture change. However, our research- and experience-informed critical reflections in supporting researchers suggest that there is still significant work to be done: (1) to offer consistent messages to researchers at all grades about social impacts from research and (2) to ensure that engagement is seen as an aspirational activity, embedded within research.